Shemekia Copeland (#1502)

One of the hottest rising blues vocalists gives a rousing performance at the 2010 W. C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival.

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Shemekia Copeland is a passionate singer with a “blast-furnace voice.” In a rousing performance at the 2010 W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival in Henderson, KY, she demonstrates vividly why she's being called a new "queen of the blues."

Copeland’s soul-searing rendition of “Never Going Back to Memphis” is an old-school blues wailer in the vein of Etta James or Koko Taylor. And backed by her muscular five-piece band, her “Who Stole My Radio” also elicits plenty of crowd participation among the audience gathered along the banks of the Ohio River for the festival.

“I grew up in Harlem during the hip-hop era but what I loved was the blues,” says Copeland, 32.The daughter of the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, she began singing it early.

“I got in trouble for singing Koko Taylor records when I was a kid,” Copeland says in the program. “I’d be in third grade and go to school singing, ‘I’m a woman/I can make love to a crocodile,’” she says with a laugh.“My teachers would call home and my parents would be like, ‘well, she’s going to be a blues singer.’”


This program was recorded at: 2010 W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival